Over at Sword’s Edge Publishing, I’ve been discussing the use of sword noir for role-playing games. I broke down the definition of sword noir I originally presented here, and I’ve discussed each and every aspect of it (last post coming live just after this one). I’ve done all that, but sword noir did not come to me as a gaming theme, rather as a theme for my fiction writing.
Why, then, haven’t I done a series about using sword noir in one’s fiction?
I honestly can’t say. I think that the points I bring up in the posts about gaming could apply—for the most part—to fiction writing, but that kind of dodges my own question.
I think part of it is the opposite of hubris. If one has had the chance to read my interview in the current issue of On Spec, you might have noted that I don’t have a particularly high opinion of myself as a writer. In that I am a published author, that I get paid for my work, and that I have cracked both of the markets I set as my targets (Black Gate and On Spec), I am doing something right. It does not mean, to me, that I can go around lecturing other writers how to do what we do.
Y’know, I think I do pretty good as a writer, and I am immensely better now than I was ten years ago . . . I should certainly hope so. The thing is, I am not a better writer than I was maybe five years ago. I certainly haven’t improved in the last three or four years. I know this because I haven’t been writing fiction. Like anything, you stop practicing, you stop improving. I just hope I’m not deteriorating!
A second reason why I haven’t examined sword noir for writers is that I think setting up a definition would pretty much be enough for myself as a writer. The craft, the work, the publishing, these are things I want to know about. How to apply a theme to my work, what that theme means, this has no value to me. I will find my own voice, thank you very much. If I do use your ideas, rest assured they will be filtered through my mind’s eye and may come out as something very different.
For RPGs, though, I love reading about how others come up with what they use in their games. I like to see the process. I like to hear about the process.
And, you know what, I’ve made more money selling my RPG wares than I have my fiction writing. Not any longer, though. I make damn little from Sword’s Edge Publishing these days. Once everything is paid, that very little profit I make gets me a nice case of beer every month or two. That’s not too bad. When I was really writing, really putting work out there, it was much better. In the end, more people have paid to read my gaming work than my fiction.
So, I don’t think you writers out there need to be told how to use sword noir. Those of you who aren’t writers out there probably don’t care. Those gamers can head on over to Sword’s Edge Publishing and see what I’m going on about.
Now, if I can just get these other stories done, maybe the world can have some more sword noir.